Movie Reviews

Firewall

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Rating: 6 out of 10
Movie Details: View here

Cast:
Harrison Ford as Jack Stanfield
Paul Bettany as Bill Cox
Virginia Madsen as Beth Stanfield
Jimmy Bennett as Andrew Stanfield
Carly Schroeder as Sarah Stanfield
Beverley Breuer as Sandra
Robert Patrick
Alan Arkin
Matthew Currie Holmes as Bobby
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
Zachary De Wilde
Robert Forster
Eric Keenleyside as Allan Hughes
Jennifer Kitchen as Dani
Stephen Milton
Mary Lynn Rajskub
Ken Tremblett as Bob
Kett Turton
Vince Vieluf as Pim

Summary:
"Firewall" is like many of Harrison Ford's other recent films. It's a decent popcorn flick, but it suffers from big plot holes and cheesy moments.

Story:
The following is the official description of this film:

"Computer security specialist Jack Stanfield (Harrison Ford) works for the Seattle-based Landrock Pacific Bank. A trusted top-ranking executive, he has built his career and reputation on designing the most effective anti-theft computer systems in the industry, protecting the bank's financial holdings from the constant threat of increasingly sophisticated internet hackers with his complex network of tracers, access codes and firewalls.

Jack's position affords a comfortable life for him, his architect wife Beth (Virginia Madsen) and their two young children a standard of living that includes a beautiful home in a residential community just outside the city.

But there's a vulnerability in Jack's system that he has not accounted for: himself. It's a vulnerability that one very ruthless and resourceful thief is poised to exploit.

Bill Cox (Paul Bettany) has been studying Jack and his family for many months; monitoring their online activity, listening to their calls and learning their daily routines with an arsenal of digital and video recorders and parabolic microphones that tap into the most personal of information. He knows the names of their children's friends, their medical histories, and the I.D. code for the security station that guards their neighborhood. Having spent the better part of a year methodically infiltrating every aspect of Jack's identity, Cox is now ready to make good on his investment.

Leading a tight team of mercenary accomplices, he seizes control of the Stanfield house, making Beth and the kids terrified hostages in their own home and Jack his unwilling pawn in a scheme to steal $100 million from the Landrock Pacific Bank.

With every possible escape route shrewdly anticipated and blocked by Cox, every potential ally out of reach and the lives of his wife and children at stake, Jack is forced to find a breach in his own formidable security system to siphon funds into his captor's offshore account incriminating himself in the process and eradicating any electronic evidence that Cox ever existed.

Under constant surveillance, he has only hours to accomplish the risky transactions while desperately hunting for a loophole in the thief's own impenetrable wall of subterfuge and false identities to save his family and beat Cox at his own game."

"Firewall" is rated PG-13 for some intense sequences of violence.

What Worked:
"Firewall" is kind of like a Big Mac. It's pretty basic, sometimes you're in the mood for it, and no matter where in the world you order it, you know exactly what you're getting. In the same way, "Firewall" is your basic Harrison Ford film. It features him as the everyman whose family is threatened, then he outsmarts the bad guys and wins in the end after a big fist fight. It's pretty much like every other recent Harrison Ford film. Sometimes you're in the mood for it, sometimes you're not. And when you walk into the theater, you know exactly what you're getting. In this case it's not fine filmmaking. It's the fast food of cinema.

Harrison Ford is, well, Harrison Ford in this movie. He doesn't act much different than he has in any other movie recently. (Then again, John Wayne pretty much always acted the same too.) But as an everyman, Ford fits the bill. I have to say, though, that he looked really old in this movie. Unless he was kicking bad guy butt and the camera was shaking, he really looked his age. He looked more like the grandfather of the children in this film than their father.

Paul Bettany makes a good bad guy as Bill Cox. He's capable of looking intimidating and intelligent. He certainly holds his own against Ford. Virginia Madsen is also good as Beth Stanfield. She doesn't have a whole lot to do in this movie other than look terrorized, but she gets the job done. Mary Lynn Rajskub also provides a lot of comic relief as Ford's secretary caught up in the events. She practically steals the show from Ford when she appears on screen with him. Unfortunately Robert Patrick, Alan Arkin, and Robert Forster aren't used as much as you might otherwise hope.

What Didn't Work:
Unfortunately, the trailers and commercials ruin the first hour and a half of "Firewall". If you've seen them, you've seen a good portion of what it has to offer. That being said, though, the film is so predictable that you'd probably be able to guess what would happen without seeing them. I mean, do you really think Virginia Madsen and the children are going to be killed in this movie? Do you think the bad guys are going to get away with the cash? The only question remaining is whether or not Paul Bettany is arrested or killed at the end. The whole plotline of Harrison Ford's family being terrorized by bad guys has been done better elsewhere. Go see "Patriot Games" or "Air Force One" for good examples. That being said, "Firewall" becomes the most interesting in the last half hour when he inevitably turns the tables on the villains.

But as predictable as the film is, there are also gaping plot holes in the story. You'll frequently find yourself wondering, "Why didn't he do this? Why didn't he do that?" And generally the answer is that if he had done the intelligent, real world thing in such a situation, you wouldn't have a very interesting film. How interesting is a Harrison Ford film if he manages to find a way to call the police for help? The same goes for the lame plot by our supposedly tech-saavy bank robbers. Their plan ends up being pretty stupid in the end and you realize they never would have gotten away with it even if Indiana Jones hadn't outsmarted them. You really have to turn your brain off to get past this.

Then there are the silly moments. For example, Paul Bettany terrorizes the family by offering food containing peanuts to a boy that's allergic to them. While I'm sure it's many a parent's nightmare, it comes across as a bit silly in the film and a weak effort by a cinematic villain. The same lameness goes for a scene at the end where Harrison Ford, having beaten the bad guys (like you didn't see it coming), stands there shaking in pain while his family stands there for a long lingering moment and just stares at him. Why not rush to his aid instead? It came across as being a bit theatrical. There are other moments like this throughout the movie.

Finally, the music by Alexandre Desplat is a bit over the top. For example in one scene while the family is being attacked, the full orchestra blares. It then cuts to Harrison Ford at a business dinner with no music. It then cuts back to the family and the music blares again. It then cuts back with no music. It goes back and forth several times and starts becoming laughable.

The Bottom Line:
If you can leave your brain at home, you might enjoy "Firewall". Yes, it has major problems, but it's a popcorn flick that you shouldn't expect too much out of. Harrison Ford has done much better, though. How much longer must we wait for "Indy 4"?

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